With 385 entrants some solo, most were teams the dusty trails around Moab were alive with mountain bikers last weekend during the annual 24 Hours of Moab endurance race.
The race, which brings several thousand cyclists, family and support crew members to the area, is one of the biggest endurance races in the country and part of a six-race series of 24-hour races across the nation.
More than 1,000 cyclists pushed their legs, bikes and minds to the limits as they rode through the night, seeking to be the team, or individual, completing the most laps and the most miles.
Though competitors came to Moab from across the country, the race was dominated by Utah athletes.
The team of Bart Gillespie, Thomas Spannring, Jason Sager and Nina Baum blew away the field of other relay teams by completing the circuit 20 times. Their MonaVie/Cannondale team was the only group to complete 20 laps on the 14.91 mile course that included 1,360 feet of vertical climbing on each lap with 7.85 miles of uphill pedaling.
Their totals were an incredible 298.2 miles and 27,200 feet of elevation gain as each rider took turns churning out the miles.
Also putting in an amazing performance was the team of Jason Asay, Charles Gibson, Josh Wolfe and Tim Allen riding for a team called the Jack Mormon Militia which completed 19 laps to finish second overall. The team added the extra challenge of riding single-speed bikes.
Another Utah-based, MonaVie/Cannondale-sponsored team Matt Ohran, Isaac Wilson, Todd Henniman and Kyle Mears finished third overall with 19 laps but finished after the Jack Mormon Militia.
Maryland's Chris Eatough was the top men's solo finisher, completing 14 laps or 208 miles without a break. The top women's solo racer was Colorado's Jari Kirkland, who also completed 14 laps, finishing her final lap a little more than an hour after Eatough called it a day.
FUN IN THE MUD: While the cold temperatures and rain might scare away many cyclists, there's a group that loves nothing more than to get a little dirty.
An often unknown cycling event cyclocross is in full swing in the area with a series of races at courses from Ogden to Heber City and Magna. Cyclocross is kind of like a mixture of mountain biking, road biking and cross country running, with off road trails, obstacles to jump over and hills to climb usually with a fair amount of muck to enjoy.
Three races into the season series, athletes have raced in a variety of divisions that include professional cyclists such as Bart Gillespie and youngsters.
Canyon Bicycles of Draper has agreed to provide free use of cyclocross bicycles to youths interested in trying out the sport, which is growing and a part of the international cycling community.
The next race will be at Ogden's Fort Buenaventura with racing set to begin at 9:30 a.m.
RACER'S WRAP: The local road-racing scene has pretty much finished things up. Last weekend there were two low-key, but still competitive, races that brought out a few dozen cyclists for some wet rides.
The City Creek Bike Sprint had a small turnout for the 5.7 mile uphill challenge won by David Welsh in 23:05. Teenagers Dustin Wilson and Chase Pinkham were second and third, respectively, crossing the finish line in a sprint just one second behind Welsh.
Alisha Welsh won the women's race, finishing at 25:49.
STILL WARM IN DIXIE: The year's final big ride is scheduled for this weekend in St. George. With options of 30, 65 or 100 miles, the Tour de St. George will take cyclists from Dixie State past Sand Hollow State Park and into Hurricane. Riders hit the road Saturday at 8 a.m.
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